So back in February I was getting all excited about finding my new style and was making plans for some Spring Sewing. I did pretty well and managed to crank out two out of the four items that I made plans for (check them out here and here). Then my parents threw a spanner in the works by inviting Luke and I out to Spain with them for a week in May. With a lovely hot holiday to look forward to I suddenly got the urge to skip straight to Summer Sewing and since my new body (post baby) is definitely not ready for short skirts and shorts I thought the best route would be maxi dresses.
I had spotted the most gorgeous navy blue and white tie dye fabric on the Ditto Instagram feed and instantly had to have it (following fabric shops on Instagram is not good for your wallet - very good for their marketing! lol). I have two approaches to owning fabric...I either purchase it, make multiple plans for it but then squirrel it away, occasionally taking it out to swoon over and stroke lovingly, but end up too scared to cut into it, or I get it back to my house, wash it and getting cutting and sewing as soon as possible! The former is the norm, but the latter was exactly what happened with this fabric. I had quite a specific plan for this fabric as soon as I saw it online, but when it arrived it turned out to be a bit heavier than I imagined and I was worried my grand plan wouldn't work as well as I thought. But I decided to go ahead with it anyway. Its a cotton linen mix, and I suppose the linen gives it a heavier drape, but the cotton and the print mean that it doesn't crease as much as 100% linen (or it doesn't show) which is great.
The plan was a maxi dress with a gathered flounce on the hem. I tried searching for a suitable pattern, but couldn't track one down that I was completely enamoured with, so decided to cobble my own together instead! I had always wanted to make a dress using the By Hand London Flora bodice (variation 2) because I thought the straight, high neckline would really suit me, so I thought this might be the perfect opportunity.
Because my time is very limited these days and I just don't have the energy to make toiles/muslins to test patterns I just tissue fitted the Flora bodice and decided it would be a decent enough fit to just go for it with the tie dye fabric. I cut a straight size UK16, but added an extra inch or so to the length, to lower the waistline. Ironically I subsequently ended up taking out about an inch there in the final fitting, so I should have just left it alone! It was a great fit around my bust at the front, but I did have to play with the zip placement a bit. I thought I had a lot more extra fabric in the back than I really did and my first time inserting the zip made the bodice too tight. I REALLY didn't want to unpick and re-sew but since I couldn't really breathe I knew it would be foolish to leave it. For this project I finally got around to using my new invisible zip foot - oh my goodness, they are brilliant! Definitely the best invisible zip I have ever sewn, and so easy to use. I highly recommend getting one if you don't already own one.
I didn't want a lot of gathers at the waist (I've mentioned before how I don't think that is a flattering shape for me) so the skirt is made as a sort of A-line, with the waist being just slightly wider than my actual waist measurement and then widening out to slightly less than the width of the fabric. I only had two meters of this fabric so I had to be a bit frugal with my cutting and could only use the width of my fabric as the bottom flounce, which was made by cutting rectangles, gathering and attaching to the hem of the skirt (advanced pattern drafting right there! lol).
The bodice is lined with a lovely light weight white cotton from my stash (I bought about 5m one time specifically for lining summer clothes!) and the hem of the skirt is actually sewn with a blue ribbon, turned up and hemmed. I decided to hem it like that to reduce bulk as I think a double turned hem would have been to heavy.
So, what is my overall opinion of the finished dress? Actually, I'm not sure. I've included the photo above of me messing around with the scarf as a belt because I think perhaps a belt would divide up the dress nicely and be a little more flattering. Without one I feel it's a bit too much a sea of blue and actually a bit boring. The dress is really comfy to wear and I love that the fabric doesn't crease much, or show creases much. However, I feel that I may be chopping into this dress and maybe making the skirt a bit more pencil with a knee-length flounce instead of a maxi - what do you think? As I said, the fabric is quite heavy and I actually got a bit hot wearing it (even though the weather is Spain was abysmal while I was there), so shortening the skirt might help.
I made one more dress for my holiday but I didn't get any shots while I was away so need to take a few photos of it for the blog - hopefully soon however I'm back to work next week. I can't believe that my year-long maternity leave is nearly over. It will be heartbreaking to leave my little Luke for the day but I have to admit there is a part of me looking forward to it - partly because I'm now scheming up lots of work appropriate sewing plans!